Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.
Joseph was married Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph and Amy look forward to their honeymoon in Paris in September 2012. Murphy, a 15-year-old orange tabby, is perhaps the most vocal member of the family. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space”.
His latest book is the paranormal crime thriller, Grim.
Visit his website at www.JosephSpencer.com.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
I began my professional life as a newspaper reporter, writing for large regional dailies in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Virginia over a 10-year career. When digital media began to threaten the future of print media, I decided to switch careers and have worked as an emergency 9-1-1 telecommunicator for the past four years. I missed writing, and thought that writing crime fiction would be a nice blend of my two jobs. I work with police, firefighters and paramedics on a daily basis, so I try to integrate some of the personalities from my real life experiences into my characters.
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
With the responsibilities of my full-time job, it was difficult to devote time to write, too. I imposed a daily goal of writing at least three pages per day, and that steady commitment to it helped me finish. I’d never written fiction or before Grim, so it was an accomplishment to see it through. My best advice for any writer is to write every day, and never quit.
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
My publisher is Damnation Books, an independent horror trade press from Santa Rosa, Calif. I queried several houses which accepted unsolicited manuscripts, and right away they were excited to work on Grim. It was quite an exciting week for me because they accepted my manuscript on March 15, 2012, the day after my wedding.
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
I had no idea how difficult the entire process would be. I thought I finished the heavy lifting when I finished writing, but the querying process with agents and publishers is even more nerve wracking. There’s a lot of rejection, so when you get accepted it’s exhilarating. It’s a Herculean task to make a success out of an independent book. You’ve got to make a lot of successful decisions with marketing, and be willing to spend a little to get your name out to readers who’ve never heard of you or what you’ve written. It’s a cluttered marketplace, so you’ve got to win over readers who are wondering why they should spend their hard-earned money on you.
Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?
My cover artist is Dawne Dominique, a talented designer for horror and romance novels with Damnation Books. I thank her all the time because she took my breath away when she first emailed my cover to me. When I saw it, it created a sense of pride and legitimacy. My story became real. A character I’d only known from my imagination stared back at me, and he looked exactly how I’d envisioned him. I cried when I held the first paperback copies I received because this was something I didn’t even know I could finish when I started.
Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?
Wrage, the second book in my Sons of Darkness series, was released June 1st by Damnation Books. It picks up where I left off with Grim. It tells the story of Jeff Wrage, who is seeking vengeance for his murdered wife.
Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?
My book attempts to make you take a closer look at the human condition. It’s a morality tale about losing your humanity when you become obsessed with personal loss.
Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
My message is that it’s easy for any of us to fall from grace. Without discipline, faith and hope, any of us can lose our way. In my story, great men fall victim to the temptation of one of the deadly sins – wrath. They lose everything but can’t stop themselves, even when they suspect what they’re doing is wrong.
Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?
I am humbled and honored by those who’ve already read Grim. It’s one of the greatest thrills of my life when someone writes to let me know I’ve entertained them. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions, feedback or if you’d like me to send you free swag. I invite those of you who enjoyed Grim to pick up a copy of Wrage. My publisher is offering 28 percent off all of our ebooks at www.damnationbooks.com with coupon code 289snake. Thank you for having me.
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